Seal of Dane County County of Dane

Invasive Tree and Brush Removal

Once autumn arrives and plants become dormant, staff and volunteers work in woodlands and savannas to remove woody invasive species of brush and trees, such as honeysuckle and buckthorn. Workdays are held in existing project areas to remove species that cast deep shade and squeeze out native flora. Work is expanded to new project areas with help from volunteers. The removal of woody invasive species opens up the understory to promote regrowth of oak saplings, grasses, and forbs that are shaded out by these species and creates habitat that supports Wisconsin wildlife. 

Details & Requirements

  • Volunteers must be able to walk over uneven terrain. 
  • Bathroom availability varies by park. View the Open Restrooms webpage for more information. If there is no bathroom at a workday site, either use one before the workday or ask staff to suggest a nearby public location.

Sawyers can use several tools at a workday:

  • Chainsaws: volunteers who meet certain requirements (see "Required Trainings") can use their personal chainsaws, either electric or gas, to cut brush/trees. Sometimes staff have extra chainsaws that can be provided to volunteers who don't already own one. 
  • Brush cutters or non-motorized hand tools: Volunteers can bring their own hand tools to cut smaller saplings/brush. Staff will often bring brush cutters to sites that have lots of brush, and volunteers are welcome to use them during the workday. 

Haulers assist sawyers by:

  • Removing material cut by the sawyer. This material includes branches, small trunks, etc.
  • Making small to medium sized piles.
    • Sometimes an experienced staff member operates a skid steer with grapple on-site during workdays to help consolidate piles.
  • Treating stumps with an herbicide. If a volunteer is uncomfortable with this aspect of the role, they can let the workday leader know. 

Chainsaw Use:

  • Prior to operating a chainsaw on any Dane County Park property, a volunteer must have the following two items on file with the Dane County Parks Volunteer Program:
    • A completed Volunteer Registration Form (PDF).
    • A signed Chainsaw Waiver (PDF), included with a copy of a certificate from a completed chainsaw safety course that meets Forest Industry Safety and Training Alliance (FISTA) standards. Courses should have two components: a classroom portion and an in-field, hands-on portion.

Chainsaw Safety Courses:

  • FISTA standards are met by the following courses: 
    • FISTA Beginner
    • SAWW Level 1
    • USFS "A Sawyer"
    • Other equivalent baseline trainings may be considered but must first be approved by park staff. 
  • Dane County Parks hosts SAWW trainings in the spring and fall – head to the Event Calendar and search “SAWW”. Registration for only one Level 1 class is necessary. 
  • If there are currently no classes scheduled, go to the Volunteer Sign-up webpage and select "Chainsaw Class Interest" to be added to the notification email list. 


  • Adult (18+ years old) volunteers only.



  • Youth under 16 years old may not attend these workdays as heavy equipment will be in operation.

Invasive Tree & Brush Removal workdays occur on Tuesdays and Fridays between November - March.

  • Events are typically posted in October.


  • Water: Volunteers should bring their own water. Staff provide bottled water as a backup.
  • Snacks: If you'd like to have a snack during the workday break, please bring something for yourself. Bringing a treat to share with others is welcome (if that is something you enjoy). Staff often try to provide snacks during these workdays.

What to Know:

  • Staff provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as: helmets with face shields and hearing protection, single-use hearing and eye protection, gloves, and chaps if a volunteer is using a staff-supplied chainsaw. 
  • Most other tools and materials are provided for use at workdays, including premium gas mix and bar oil for sawyers to use in their chainsaws. 

What to Wear:

  • All volunteers should be ready to work in winter conditions and should dress for the weather (boots, thick socks, layers, etc.) in clothes you don't mind working in, and wear non-synthetic materials (cotton, wool, etc.) that won’t be melted by falling embers, as brush piles may be burned if conditions permit.
  • Sawyers using a chainsaw must wear all PPE designated in the Chainsaw Waiver.

Independent Volunteering:

If you are interested in independently working on invasive brush removal at a specific Dane County Park location, the Natural Areas Program invites you to become a Certified Land Steward. Certified Land Stewards coordinate directly with park staff to create annual workplans that help to build on each other's work and tie restoration efforts together.  

Volunteer-led Workdays:

Many of the Dane County Parks Friends Groups and Certified Land Stewards host Tree and Brush Removal Workdays independently from park staff. During these events, the Sawyer and Hauler roles are typically the same, however there is no skid-steer/grapple present at these events. Some volunteer leads may choose to only use hand tools during their events and may not accept gas-powered tool use at their workdays, though in some cases electric saws may be allowed. These workdays may be held on other days and times throughout the year. Check the Event Calendar for additional volunteer opportunities.  

Directing questions to the workday leader is encouraged. 



Wood Collection

Volunteers can apply for our Surplus Wood Collection Permit (PDF), which allows them to collect wood deemed as surplus by Dane County Parks. Commercial products created using surplus wood is strictly prohibited. 



Dane County Parks Volunteer Program 
(608) 516-3703